Book cover: Tame your Work Flow
Tame your Work Flow

We began our re-read of Tame your Work Flow by Steve Tendon and Daniel Doiron, on Saturday, May 23rd. The world has changed a lot as we worked our way through the book. However, there are important ideas in this book that are far less transitory than the changes we’ve seen in 2020 will be. One of those ideas is finding the constraint in complex, messy workflows. They even add an acronym for this scenario to our alphabet soup vocabulary – PEST. In the messy real-world Steve and Daniel describe how to identify the constraint and then track it as it moves around. This is the difference between understanding flow in theory and doing something about it in practice. I used this approach twice just this week.  Another great and useful idea is the concept of full-kitting. I gauge the value of this kind of book by whether I can use the material and whether it makes me think. I have been able to use these concepts and more in my consulting practice since my first read of the book. The second time through, this re-read, has only deepened my understanding and appreciation of the ideas in TameFlow.

On the thinking side (read that as ideas that wake me up at night), Tame your Work Flow has contributed to my occasional sleeping issues. Flow is a very powerful concept that is foreign to many organizations except in small pockets of a company. Over and over I see organizations that struggle with ideas like value streams or products leading to teams that find it difficult to identify the product they impact. This leads to local maximizations rather than systemic approaches to delivering value. Concepts like common goals and the Alexandrian pattern of enlightened self-interest are parts of the solution, but rarely does anyone actually organize for flow. High performance requires breaking down the barriers that slow work and create artificial constraints. This requires restructuring whole swaths of the organization. Identifying and organizing around the product amplifies ideas like enlightened self-interest.  

On a more logistical level, both the times I read Tame your Work Flow I used the Kindle App on a laptop. There were a lot of benefits to this approach, including the ability to highlight, to dictate notes, and then to export the lot. I am, however, not sold on the idea that this is the best format for use as a reference book. I would appreciate thoughts and guidance on using Kindel versions of books as a reference library.  

Final word: This book is very useful, I will use it as a reference book and read it totally again in the future to remind myself of the importance of flow and discover more of the nuances of TameFlow.  Remember to buy a copy,  the patterns identified in Chapter 21 alone are worth the price of admission. 

Next: I am working to ensure that I am fully kitted before I begin the re-read of Great Big Agile by Jeff Dalton next week.